Delhi government surplus budget led by Aam Aadmi party: Needs closer scrutiny

the Aam Admi PartyThe Delhi-led government presented a “Rozgaar Budget” of Rs 75,800 crore for 2022-23 on March 26, 2022. Less than two weeks later on April 7, the AAP claimed that if the states ruled by the Bharatiya Janata party were heavily indebted, Delhi was the only “state” with a surplus budget.

“If you want to learn governance, learn it from the Kejriwal government. By emptying people’s pockets, the BJP is putting states into debt,” the AAP tweeted in Hindi. It listed the debt burden of seven BJP-ruled states – Uttar Pradesh (UP), Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh – and compared it to Delhi’s revenue surplus.

There are a few factors that prove this claim to be misleading:

Unfair comparison of debt and revenue surplus: AAP compares total liabilities of BJP-led state governments with Delhi’s budget surplus for 2022-23, which is not a similar comparison .

Delhi also in debt: While the AAP enlisted the debt of other states, what it did not mention is the debt that weighs on the Delhi government. Delhi’s outstanding debt was estimated at Rs 40,697 crore at the end of 2020-2021 (5.18% of the state’s gross domestic product), according to the Delhi Economic Survey 2022.

Delhi cannot borrow from the market: Delhi, being a union territory, does not have the same capacity as other states to run up debt. Delhi’s debt includes only central government loans. This means that Delhi’s debt with other states can hardly be compared.

Moreover, the debt of a State depends on many factors, the most important being its GDP. Comparing the debt of states without taking into account their population, their size or the size of their economy is incorrect.

Of the BJP-ruled states listed in the AAP tweet, three posted a revenue surplus in their recent budget – UP (Rs 23,210 crore), Gujarat (Rs 1,006 crore) and Uttarakhand (Rs 115 crore) . Figures for Uttarakhand and UP are from 2021 as both states held elections in 2022.

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